Sarasota, Florida -- The Florida Highway Patrol says one lane on southbound Interstate 75 at University Parkway in Sarasota has been reopened after two holes in the overpass caused a closure of those lanes for most of the day.
The area is located at the Sarasota Manatee County lines right outside of the Lakewood Ranch community.
University Parkway is still closed in both directions under the overpass.
Ken Watson with the Florida Highway Patrol says the damage was caused by a truck driver. Trooper Watson says, "He made some evasive maneuvers to avoid striking the vehicle in front of him. When he did so he lost his load. It was a 6,000 pound piece of drilling equipment. When it fell into the roadway it caused two very large holes that went completely through the overpass. We were able to open one lane, one of the three southbound lanes."
We spoke with the driver of the Soroa Freight Incorporated truck. Jorge wouldn't give us his last name and speaks little English. He says that traffic came to a sudden stop because of a stopped car.
A driver stopped to help that driver and that somehow caused a domino affect leading to other drivers slamming on their brakes. He says when he hit his brakes suddenly it caused the straps tying down his equipment to fly off leading to the damage.
Sabrina Rocco was driving underneath the overpass when it happened. She was on her beat searching for a story when one literally fell in her lap. She works for the Bradenton Herald and when pieces of the I-75 overpass started to crumble the debris started raining down on her car as she drove east on University Parkway.
Rocco says, "The debris all of a sudden just fell onto my car and onto my windshield. It was a little scary because I initially thought it was going to collapse. That was my first thought."
10 News surveyed the damage and found several gashes and partial holes in the asphalt besides the two holes Watson spoke of.
Watson says Jorge has been charged with careless driving and he says the repairs could take some time. Watson says, "We're looking at the most two days to have those repairs made."
Meanwhile businesses around the area like Another Broken Egg Cafe are forced to scramble. They're closed for renovations and looking to hire 35 people or so but Eric Romeo, the Kitchen Manager, says the accident is impacting the process. During the day they'd seen about 60 former customers and job seekers but that changed right after the accident. He says, "University is the main road. We haven't seen anybody."
Bridge inspectors from the Florida Department of Transportation were at the scene Monday afternoon assessing the damage and repairs are currently underway to repair it.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is urging drivers to avoid the area until all lanes have been reopened. On Monday evening, just a few miles north of the incident, two vehicles in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 flipped, causing even more back up. There's no word on any injuries or what caused the crash there.
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